Study: Women Take Crucial Part in Travel Decisions

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A study conducted by Roper Public Affairs & Media for Meredith Publishing confirms the increasingly important role women play in making leisure travel decisions for families.

The survey showed that 95 percent of women are active vacation decision makers and one-third are primarily responsible for making the decisions.

"Women, who make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, are the segment to reach with direct marketing initiatives," said Patti Follo, executive director of Meredith Corp.'s direct response marketing and travel marketing unit in New York.

Roper conducted the national survey in July with women who took a leisure vacation in the past three years where they traveled at least 50 miles from home and included a one-night stay. The findings sought behavioral insight to help marketers understand women travelers.

The women's decision-making role was the key finding. Of the women who take the lead in the vacation decision process, 45 percent suggested vacation ideas, 54 percent researched details, 38 percent made the final decision and 49 percent booked the trip.

Women who said they shared the decision-making process with their spouse or partner play a role, too. Thirty-six percent suggested vacation ideas, 27 percent researched details, 42 percent made the final decision and 18 percent booked the trip.

The Meredith Women's Travel Study said that four out of five women claimed their vacations are a "must have," and 90 percent of families with teens agreed.

Follo said travel marketers should reach out to women with multiple direct marketing messages, helping motivate them at the important vacation touch points of suggesting, researching, deciding and booking.

"Because vacations are so important to her, she'll be receptive to vacation messaging that is an element of a different category's program," Follo said.

For example, marketers can develop a DM program for a vacation destination with a food retailer's frequent-purchaser rewards card. Taking it a step further, they can send an opportunity to win a trip to Puerto Rico to every woman who buys plantains at a participating supermarket. This tactic advantageously links a destination, supermarket and a fruit type.

The study found that vacations provide important emotional rewards for women such as relaxation, reconnection, escapism, freedom from chores and adventures. Marketers should craft DM messages using copy points and images that address those rewards.

Women favor short trips over long. Thirty-six percent of those responding took four or more short trips in the past three years while 32 percent took two or three. Travel marketers may wish to create a rewards program for frequent, short-stay visitors.

A few other findings emerged from the Meredith study. First is the love of cruises: One in three women said they are likely to take a cruise within the next 12 months. Cruise brands should use direct marketing to target these women, create a personalized database of their preferences, remind them what a great time they had and encourage repeat use.

The other finding showed that girlfriend travel is not to be underestimated. One in five women respondents leave men behind in their vacation travel. To be precise, 18 percent took a "girls only" trip in the past three years.

Follo said travel brands should develop women's-only-themed programs. Marketers should promote such programs via personal outreach, women's associations and through mail and e-mail.

"Direct marketing has played an important part in every travel brand's communications mix, even more so for destinations where getting a compelling brochure in the hands of the woman is a key acquisition tactic to motivate her consideration," Follo said. "Direct marketing also plays an integral role as a retention tool as travel brands and destinations continue their initial relationship by sending newsletters and reward program updates."

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting


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